Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports
Release Date:
Monday, 13 November 2017 - 2:04pm

11th Sitting of the Second Session of the Third House of Assembly
November 13, 2017

Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to make a brief statement to this Honourable House and the people of the Virgin Islands as I express our sincere gratitude to those persons who have assisted us or made pledges to assist our schools in one way or another.

Madam Speaker, from the Ministry of Education and Culture we reached out to a number of individuals and organisations seeking assistance, but a number of them also came forward. Things are far from what we would like, but Madam Speaker we are facing difficult times and it will take us a little while to get back to what we knew as normal. 

Madam Speaker, I think it is important to publicly thank the persons who have been helping and have made donations or pledges to assist us in the education sector as we work towards rebuilding.

  • We have had the very generous offer, valued at one million dollars, from Mr. Peter Haycraft of Road Town Wholesale Co. Ltd to rebuild the Enis Adams Primary School and we thank him for his very generous offer. He is partnering with a team and we have begun to have meetings with that team as we chart the way forward in getting the works started.
  • Oil Nut Bay is committed to rebuilding the Robinson O’Neal Primary School in Virgin Gorda and their plans are on the way to have that done.
  • The BVI Asia House is working with Hong Kong Lions to raise funds for the rebuilding of the Elmore Stoutt High School and we have had offers from several other persons who are interested in donating towards this school such as Systems Engineering and FDL Consult Inc. and Mr. Raymond Hung who has pledged $50,000 towards the rebuilding.
  • We would like to thank Team Rubicon, the UK Military and UK Police, Convoy of Hope and Cedar International, UNICEF and the OECS who has worked with UNICEF to offer psycho-social support for teachers and students, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) who were basically the first responders in getting the education system and infrastructure.
  • MSC Cruises has given us a 4000sq ft temporary building and this was instrumental in helping us provide adequate spaces for the Bregado Flax Educational Centre (BFEC) students in the interim as we work on the damaged buildings.
  • Dr. Jeracki and his family (The Jerecki Foundation) have pledged 100 computers. We have received 50 computers and will receive the other 50 next week. This will be instrumental in moving forward with technology in our teaching learning process.
  • Sharlene Thomas and partners of Yates Associates are responsible for the temporary roof on the restrooms at BFEC and Jim Hagedorn and Michael Collins donated school supplies.
  • Cary Olsen has donated $10,000 towards the Jost Van Dyke School and Convoy of Hope has also expressed an interest in working with us to rebuild the school.
  • Several of our local companies who adopted schools have come forward and made donations in cash and/or in kind. Harneys had a big drive in cleaning the Francis Lettsome School as well as donating $10,000 towards repairs, Ogiers worked hard on repairing the Joyce Samuels School valuing more than $20,000; Road Town Wholesale donated 5 generators, Digicel has committed to repairing the Althea Scatliffe School and has given them a generator, Social Security has pledged to repair the Enid Scatliffe Pre- Primary School and FLOW has given backpacks with school supplies to children at Willard Wheatley as well as a generator for a school.
  • The Rotary Clubs have also stood by our side from day one and continue to do so, liaising with different donors as well as their fellow clubs across the globe to get us assistance in a variety of areas – from manpower to work on schools, to providing school supplies, water, juices, computers and equipment and more.
  • The Catholic Relief Services assisted in the clean-up grounds/sites in preparation for the start of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres across the Territory.
  • The Caribbean Examinations Council for assisting us with accommodating our students with extended deadlines and ensuring our students will not be disadvantaged in any way.
  • NotesMaster UK in collaboration with the OECS and CXC joined to offer free training for our teachers and senior students as well as put us on the online platform to be able to have access to the information needed for their studies at the CSEC and CAPE levels.
  • UNITE BVI has pledged their support to help complete repairs at the Bregado Flax Primary and Secondary Schools on Virgin Gorda and we are hoping for work to start very soon. They have also pledged approximately 500 Chrome Books (computers for senior students) which we expect to receive soon.
  • We have also been contacted by several persons overseas who have been having fundraising events to help the schools of the BVI or offering their assistance, such as Students of the BVI in Bristol, Dana Hokin of Bitter End Yacht Club, UNESCO (Jamaica Cluster Office), Cheryl Matthis, Miranda Philibin (daughter of former Governor Barwick), Jim Scott of OneLove BVI, John Nash, Adam Sippel of North Carolina who is a long standing visitor to Jost Van Dyke and others.
  • VISAR has raised funds and have bought school supplies for 10 schools which will be distributed during this week to all the schools across the Territory.
  • Curt and Nancy Richardson have sponsored back-packs and school supplies and distribution started last week.
  • Businesses in District One donated 30 cases of water to the children at the ECD Centre in that District and Super Smile donated toothbrushes to students at the Sea Cows Bay Centre.
  • Road Town Wholesale provided snacks and Proudly African donated juices to ECD Centres across the Territory.
  • Mr. Rick Fredkin of the USA is also working with donors to have tablets donated to our schools.
  • Alumni of BVIHS organized by Mr. Keith Malone had a clean-up campaign for the ESHS school campus yesterday and others such as the BVI Fire and Rescue Department did some preliminary works.
  • Virgin Gorda Transport (Speedy’s) gave free transportation for resources to Virgin Gorda.
  • Fischers Cove generously offered their facilities for the preparation of meals for the children and First Caribbean International Bank for supplying drinking water for the children on Virgin Gorda.
  • Pastor Dabreo allowed us the use of the Cornerstone school to start school on October 5 on Virgin Gorda and the Virgin Gorda Seventh Day Adventist Church assisted with clean up efforts to get school started.
  • Mr. Vincent Wheatley and members of the Virgin Gorda relief operation Centre, “VG Rock”, worked in various areas to support the Ministry and ensure that schools reopened.
  • Island Paints for donating paint for the schools.
  • All Hands Volunteers is on ground and has offered their assistance in helping to clean schools as well as starting discussions with us to assist in the rebuilding of a school.
  • A special thank you to the Heavy Equipment Operators across the Territory.

Madam Speaker, I must also thank the many parents and other community members who came out to assist in cleaning up the schools which have reopened. The principals, teachers, and staff of the Ministry of Education and Culture must also be given kudos for working tirelessly to ensure that schools were prepared and ready to receive our students even as they struggled with their own losses.

If I have left anyone out Madam Speaker, I offer my apologies but it was not intentional. As I stated before, the outpouring of support has been tremendous and we are forever grateful to ALL who have come forward, locally, regionally and internationally.

Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to reach out to other donors to assist us in this effort to have our young people back in school and moving forward. We need to ensure we take care of our future and these children are the future. We also look forward to receiving all the pledges and to work with everyone in making our education system even better.

I must reiterate Madam Speaker that we have a long road ahead of us but every journey starts with one step. We have made that step and plan to continue until we reach our goal of having all our schools repaired and /or rebuilt. It will be a long journey and there will be many bumps along the way as we found out on the November 6th when we opened, but together we can overcome and get back to where we were and beyond because we are a resilient people. A heartfelt thank you to all for partnering with us on our journey towards excellence.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.